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Celebrity speak in the Silverstone paddock 11 Jul 2005

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, Ellen MacArthur (GBR) and Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault..
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Race Day, Silverstone, England, 10 July 2005

At first glance, sailing solo around the world may not appear to have much in common with Formula One racing, but that didn’t stop Ellen McArthur enjoying the British Grand Prix.

“True, at first sight obviously not much, but if you look behind the scenes quite a lot," she said. "First the human side: In both cases it is the single achievement of an outstanding athlete, but who is only as good as the team standing behind him. Secondly the technology: I was invited to Silverstone by Renault which supports me for many years as the boats I use are constructed by engineers that also design race cars. The material in both cases is carbon fibre, the ultimate matter for extreme standards. And thirdly the adrenalin: I am sure it reaches similar peak levels in a human being in a Formula One car and in a boat fighting its way through the waves of the Atlantic.”

Think Rowan Atkinson and cars and you would be forgiven for picturing Mr Bean and his teddy bear in a yellow Mini complete with padlock, so what brought the famous comedian to Silverstone? “Oh, I have upgraded myself to a more sportive car understanding. So I guessed that attending a Formula One race would be a perfect start for me into a world beyond 50 horsepower. The truth is that I love to watch people forcing cars around courses at a breathtaking speed. I am a big fan of Formula One.”

Arsene Wenger, manager of top English football club Arsenal, was to be found strolling leisurely through the Silverstone paddock. What made a Sunday at the races particularly enjoyable for him? “That I can watch exciting sport, but not be responsible for the show. Just to sit back and watch and enjoy.”

Formula One racing and beautiful women are commonly perceived as a perfect match, so it was no surprise that one of the most beautiful of them all, supermodel and accomplished racer Jodie Kidd, joined the guys in their cars with the roaring engines. “I do love racing, personally on an amateur level and as a fan of the high-powered Formula One cars. Whenever it is possible I try to come up to Silverstone - and surprisingly I always manage to clear my schedule for that weekend.”

A paddock with three Ferrari Formula One world champions - two retired and one active - is something that does not happen every day. So to see John Surtees (champion in 1964), Jody Scheckter (1979) and Michael Schumacher (2000-2004) together was something to make every true race fan’s heart cheer. So what brought the former Ferrari stars to the Silverstone paddock? John Surtees: “The get that rubber and oil smell. True, the technology has changed a lot to those days when I was racing, but the excitement is still the same - nothing was lost over the years. It is still a man and his machine and a powerful team in his back. It is not nostalgia that brought me here but still addiction. I admit it.” For Scheckter, it is also a family matter: “I have a son who has chosen a race career and I want to support him wherever I can. But if I am honest it is also a little egoism involved: I love to go to races once in a while and I always liked to come to Silverstone.”